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Visual Symptoms of an STD on the Penis

By Annie McElfresh ; Updated August 14, 2017

Contagious diseases that are transmitted through intimate contact with an infected person are known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to “Understanding Medical Surgical Nursing” by Linda Williams and Paula Hopper. These diseases can also be spread by contact with infected blood and body fluids. Condoms reduce the chance of men contacting an STD. There is a chance that infected individuals will remain asymptomatic, but most men experience common visual signs following exposure to an STD.

Genital Sores

Genital sores can be a sign of STDs. Genital warts, also known as condylomata acuminatum, is the most common sexually transmitted viral disease, according to Williams and Hopper. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes the condylomata, which are wart-like fleshy tumors that protrude from the skin. The viruses that cause this infection may remain dormant for three years from the time of the initial exposure.

The herpes simplex virus also causes visual sores on the male genitals. This disease too can lie dormant until an underlying cause, such as fever, stress, or a compromised immune system, aggravates the disease. Herpes vesicular outbreaks appear as small blisters that can rupture without warning, causing painful open sores on the skin.

The odorous, white discharge of vaginosis, a vaginal infection, can cause inflammation of the penis and eventually lead to sores if left untreated, says Williams and Hopper.

Genital Ulcers

Ulcers, also known as chancre, occur when a person contracts an STD called syphilis from an infected individual. First-stage visual symptoms of syphilis begin with Treponema pallidum spirochetes, microscopic spiral-shaped bacteria, being clearly visible under the skin, says Williams and Hopper. Three to 90 days after the spirochetes appear the skin rises at the bacteria’s site of entry, and eventually painless ulcers form at the entry site. After the chancre heals, the spirochetes still remain active if left untreated.


Unusual discharge can be a symptom of a range of STDs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Men with gonorrhea may develop a secondary infection called urethritis, which in some cases is the first visual sign of an STD. This secondary infection's symptom is a yellow urethral discharge from the penis, says Williams and Hopper. Clear or cloudy discharge from the penis also occurs with the first signs of chlamydia.

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